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'Toine, Nash put Dallas on cruise control

2/29/2004

DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks are trying to improve their
playoff position before they go on the road.

Antoine Walker had 25 points and eight rebounds, Steve Nash
added 22 points and 11 assists and the Mavericks extended their
home winning streak to seven games with a 111-91 victory over the
Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

Dirk Nowitzki contributed 21 points and seven rebounds to help
Dallas to its fifth straight win overall and improve to 27-4 at
home this season.

Dallas has won the first four games of a five-game homestand
that ends Tuesday night against Seattle.

"We're a very confident team," Walker said. "This is a very
important homestand for us. We've got 11 games on the road next
month. We're jockeying for playoff position so this is the time of
the year when we've got to jell."

Zach Randolph had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Darius Miles
and Damon Stoudamire added 16 points each for Portland, which lost
at Houston on Friday to snap a five-game winning streak.

The weary Trail Blazers, who got 14 points from Derek Anderson
and 13 from Shareef Abdur-Rahim, completed a four-game road trip
over a six-day span.

"Fatigue did play a part, but the way we played in the first
half also contributed," Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said.

After trailing at halftime by 18 points, the Trail Blazers made
one last run in the fourth quarter, pulling as close as 84-77 with
8:59 left on Miles' dunk.

But Dallas increased its lead to 92-79 with 6:20 left as
Walker's layup capped an 8-2 spurt. Portland never got closer than
10 the rest of the way.

"We did a good job of battling back and weathering (Portland's
run)," Nash said. "We were able to pick it up at the end and
that's a good sign."

The Mavericks led by as many as 22 (70-48) early in the third
quarter before the Trail Blazers fought back with a 22-6 run. Miles
had eight points during the stretch, reducing the deficit to 76-70.

"We were able to climb back in the game, but we used too much
energy to do that," Cheeks said.

Dallas took an 80-70 lead into the fourth quarter after a
14-point third quarter.

The Mavericks shot 56.5 percent in the first half and held a
66-48 halftime edge. Walker had 15 points in the first half and
Nash added 14, helping Dallas to a lead as large as 20 points.

Anderson and Abdur-Rahim received technical fouls in the second
quarter while Dallas was scoring 39 points.

Anderson picked up his technical for pushing Nowitzki after
Anderson had been called for a personal on Nowitzki's drive.
Anderson caught an accidental elbow from Nowitzki on his way to the
basket.

"I guess I hit him in the face and I didn't mean to," Nowitzki
said. "It was nothing, just a misunderstanding."

Dallas outscored Portland in the paint, 50-42, and outscored the
Blazers on the fast break, 25-10.

Game notes
Mavericks rookie F Josh Howard missed the game due to a
strained right groin. ... Portland lost three of the four meetings
with Dallas this season. ... Tampa Bay receiver Keyshawn Johnson
watched the game with several Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is considering
a trade for Johnson. ... Dallas is 14-3 when Walker scores 20 or
more points. ... All five Mavericks starters scored in double
figures. Dallas is 11-1 this season when that happens. ... Randolph
had his 35th double-double.